Price and I took our last steps to the edge of Khao San Road, where we saw our friends off and away in a taxi. The going away party was over. As we watched them drive past the lighted golden bell spires of Buddhist temples, I rested my hands on my hips and sighed.

Price turned to me with a sly look.

“Soi Cowboy?”

We laughed.

“Let’s go.”

We piled in a cab and the clock read nearly 5AM.

“Damn, it’s closed already, isn’t it?”

“Well, there’s that one bar by our apartment,” he said with crazed eyes.

“I’m in,” I said, though a part of me resisted.

The dingy bar at the edge of Rang Nam street was, in a few words, a whorehouse. The padded red leather wall bore the backs of powdered women and a couple pimps walked around soliciting them. But we were only there for a drink.

Price and I sat down at a booth facing the wall of girls in pink light and ordered a couple overpriced beers. There was one with red eye shadow and a crimson cloth around her large breasts which revealed her shiny belly button piercing when she fell back with laughter talking with her whore friends. She wore large hooped silver earrings and fake eyelashes. We stared at each other blankly from across the bar. I turned to Price.

“Fuck, that girl is the one.”

A pimp with a tacky green polo and yellow collar came over and sat with us.

“Which one you want? You want to talk with she?”

“No, we’re good,” said Price, turning away.

He looked to me. “Let’s just drink one and go home. You want to play pool?”

“Sure.”

We moved behind our booth to the table. I couldn’t get any of my shots in and I found myself looking back at the crimson girl. All the same, I knew I was going home to jack off solo. Scout’s honor. But she was looking again now and it was nice to imagine.

“Damn, she is a goddess,” I went on. “Which one would you bang?”

He pointed to a chubbier-looking girl wearing a plaid jumper over a white T-shirt with brown hair down to her shoulders. Her face was plump, and with her arms crossed and slouched in her seat, I thought she looked out of place, like some fat tween in the dining room waiting for her parents to bring her cereal.

“Why?”

“I don’t know. I just like her.”

“Fair enough.”

The pimp went over to my girl and took her to a table. A group of Asian men at a table who didn’t look Thai sat there and she sat on the edge and smiled with them.

We sat back down with our new beers against the back of the puffy booth and our eyes went to the pink light. There was a long silence.

“How many of these girls do you reckon are HIV positive?”

He laughed. “At least one.”

There were around 20 of them along the walls looking at their phones, taking photos of themselves, or gesturing to us. I was glad to see that my girl was making her way back to the rest of them.

Price and I kept our eyes on them.

“I don’t know what I’m still doing out here, man.” He shook his head and sipped his drink.

“What did you want, then?”

“I thought I would have everything set by now. With a nice British girl and kids. You still have time, mate, but I’m nearly 35,” he said and let all his breath escape him.

“I don’t know, man. I think we’re up to something here.” We both took a sip from our drinks. “For me, it was inevitable. Something about the aesthetic.”

There was another silence.

“It’s like that line from McCarthy you told me about. If you’re going to do something, you have to do it all the way through to the bottom of the pit.”

He laughed, sat up, grabbed his drink, and took it down. A smile lingered on his face.

My eyes fell on the girl again and all the voices in my head were quiet. I asked Price if I should take her home. He laughed and held his hands up.

“Fuck it,” I said and called the pimp over. “That one.” I pointed to the crimson girl with red eyeshadow. She came over and sat down next to me with her legs folded and leaned forward over the music.

“What’s your name?”

“Malee,” she smiled. “You?”

“James. Let’s go.”

“Okay.”

We stood up.

“Are you joking, mate?” Price broke with laughter.

Up at the bar, I paid for her with my debit card, entered my code, and was about to set off when I turned behind me and I saw Price with the pimp now picking out a girl for himself. The plump one came up beside him.

“You too, huh?” I laughed.

“Fuck it,” he said, “Why not?”

We walked back to our apartment building together with them in hand. In our narrow alleyway, we talked about work the next day, how he wanted to call in sick, how late it was. We got in the elevator and I looked at my girl and she was excited and smiling. His wore a wince from fear or boredom. The silence lasted a few moments on our way up the floors until we met eyes and he said it out loud.

“We are fucking depraved.”

“Nah, man,” I said. “We are legends.”

***

I came into my room with Malee, hopped in the shower, turned off the lights, and crashed on my back, waiting for her to do the same. She came out wearing my towel, lit only by the bathroom light. The way she looked then could have been in an Edward Hopper painting. She took off her towel and turned it off. Her breasts were much smaller than I imagined, but still full. She was skinny and tanned. Her warm skin was youthful and fresh.

She crawled on the bed naked and mentioned something about money, trying to make another deal with me or make me pay extra. I laughed and said nothing, kissing her and holding her body. She was exactly who I had wanted and now she was here immediately under my arms and my legs. 3,000 baht, I thought, and as I pulled her into me, her body was smooth and I could feel the perk of her breasts.

We collapsed on the bed and I licked the side of her neck. I bit her gently and breathed in her ear, down to her chest, where I sucked and she moaned lightly. We moved cautiously, as many lovers do for the first time. I opened her legs and sprawled between her as the lust swelled until I put on a condom and stretched myself into her. I felt the spikiness of her new hairs crawl from my abdomen down again towards the entrance. As I worked in slowly, she began biting my neck and shoulders, and I could feel the heat of her breath as she moaned louder.

Eventually, I turned her over on her stomach and entered her from behind, knees spread, with her face at the edge of the bed. I was thrusting harder now, and she flopped against me like a paddle ball. I looked at the roundness of her ass clapping, and this was where I would usually lose myself. It was the culminating moment and the fire of victory, my favorite part of the show where everything that was warlike and manly reached its end. My eyes rolled back and my spine went straight.

It went on until our blunt parts were numb against one another, and then, in a moment’s rest, it all turned to affection. We were tender now and she was mine with no hesitation. I turned her on her back and worshipped her whole body with kisses, stretching into her and rolling her around, wrapped like foil from top to bottom I came.

As I fell back onto the bed, I looked down and I saw the condom had broken. She was standing at the edge of the bed now still trying to understand what was happening and I looked at her.

“Hey, the condom broke.”

There was a silence as I relaxed my limbs out on my bed. A worried look grew over her face in the dark and she put her hand to her mouth.

“It’s okay.” I rose and got closer to her, grabbing her hands. “We can raise it together. You and I.”

I picked her up and threw her back on the bed. She laughed confused and then became angry.

“If baby, I will abortion.”

“No, we can take care of it together.”

“You not have money to take care.”

“We can take care, it’s okay,” I said. I rolled her over me in my arms and pressed her lips to mine again.

“You crazy,” she said, starting to believe me. “What if everyone think I like you because money?”

“Who cares what everyone thinks?”

She looked stumped.

“It’s okay; we’ll get married before. I’ll go get the ring tomorrow.”

Her eyebrows came together and she hit me and laughed.

“You not want baby with me. I am not beautiful girl.” She ripped off her fake eyelashes and threw them on the bed.

“You see? And I have black skin,” she pointed to her arm.

“Here.” She put a finger on her chin. “I have motorbike accident. Next month, I get plastic surgery.”

“Still beautiful,” I said as I began to pull her into me and kiss her.

She stopped me. “You know I marry before, three year ago.”

“How old are you?”

“23. But he die in crash and I had baby inside and baby die too.”

She went on to tell me her life story. How she was from Ayutthaya and in Bangkok to send money home to her family. How she got enough money for them to open a food cart.

“You do drug?” She went on put a finger on her nose and sniffed.

“No.”

“I hate when farang do drug and want sex. I don’t like hard sex boom boom. I’m not like.”

“And I don’t like that,” she made a fist and stuck it by her mouth while clasping the back of her head and making a choking noise.

“Many customer want to fuck no condom. They say 10,000 baht pay. I always say no. I always use condom.”

I lay there, and although I was supposed to feel pity for her whole story, I felt none, save a little rumbling for her dead husband which was soon gone. I had felt pity all my life and had none left. And in spite of that, I still felt that I liked her, and at the same time despised her as a simple whore, one whom I had just worshiped in burning, gay passion. I was putting her on and at the same time I almost meant it.

“I go now,” she said and she got up and dressed.

“No,” I protested, full of the kind of horny one can get after a girl tells you she loves you. She proceeded to the door anyway and I got up and met her there and grabbed her hand.

“You want fuck me again?”

“Yes. I have 1,000 baht left. Take it.”

“No, I go.”

I held on to her. “What do you want?”

“Nothing.”

I pulled her face to mine and we began frenzied kissing. I led her to the bed and took off all of her clothes piecemeal. She rubbed her lips all over my body and took off my shorts again, pulling them down, breathing heavy. Her head went over me and I could feel the coldness of her saliva at the tip and the warmth of the wind inside her mouth. She reached lower down the shaft as her head fell down on me like warm glue.

After a while, I pulled her up and kissed her while she was on all fours above me. She dropped her back and rubbed herself against me and I took it and felt it around her too while our tongues explored each other. I slid myself in and felt her prickliness around me.

We made love like this until we fell asleep, and at daybreak, we did it again. I cradled her little body and barebacked her like she was my girlfriend.

Before she left, she asked for my Line ID and I felt like I even had a crush. I knew that that might mean I may be able to fuck her for free, and that I could pretend for the rest of the day that I had someone new to like, and also that she was a whore who I would never see again. All these feelings can happen at once, and everyone knows it until he starts thinking.

I sent her a message later in the afternoon:

“Did you take the medicine?”

“Yes. You do not have to worry. I OK.”

“I’m like your funny person.

Your seem like a funny person.”

“It’s fun with you. Everything.”

“Anyway, you have to give me money because I want a ring.”

“That was the agreement we agreed last night.”

“Hahaha you’re cute. Okay take the pill and I will buy you a ring.”

“Next time, I will take care of myself more.”

“Gold ring.”

“Can you pay me now? Because I’m going to the mall.”

Missed Call

“Tonight I will go to work again. Tomorrow I will go back to Ayutthaya.”

“Tonight, you have to give 6,000 baht as agreed. Tomorrow I will go home.”

“Because I need money to pay for the house and to buy the ring as agreed.”

“Haha you are crazy. Did you take the pill?”

“Eat already.”

“You buy?”

“It’s not much.”

“Because you have sex with me 3 times.”

“Of course I’m not going to pay you again.”

“Because why not pay.”

“In summary, I only have a disadvantage!!!!!!!!”

“The medicine I paid.”

“I’ll pay for the medicine. It’s like 100 baht.”

“Finished, I won’t mess with you again. I consider myself a jinx.”

“You don’t have to send messages again.”

“I’m not dead yet. I still have hands and legs. Can still make money.”

“Bye.”

“Okay”